Not enough people are talking about balance. As a military entrepreneur I thought of photography as a portable career. I already had a passion for it, so why not make it a venture? The next 2 years as we grew our family and added babies to the mix I struggled. I wanted so badly to have something of my own. An identity that would be me. When someone asked me what I did, I didn’t have to say “I’m just the wife.” I forget when reality first hit me. Being a photographer wasn’t about taking pictures, it’s about being an entrepreneur. And that means marketing, budgeting, taxes, licenses, editing, shooting, fulfilling orders, emailing, phone calls, bookkeeping, and the list really could go on. Add that to a day of early mornings with babies, making meals, changing diapers, laundry, dishes, paying bills, story time, playdates, bath time, and bedtime and top it off with a husband on deployment or a detachment with no family within driving distance and you can see how I and I suspect other momprenuers are stretched, overwhelmed and questioning if they have the stamina and time to make their business work. I want to be honest with you about being a mompreneur. My goal for 2012 is to take a salary. Yes, you read between the lines right. I have yet to take a salary as a photographer and business owner. And I suspect I’m not alone. All of the nights spent until 2am editing, the days trying to get an order in before one of the boys woke up from their nap have been because I love what I do and I have faith that this business will eventually compensate me for my time spent telling them “just a another minute.”
So, the latter part of 2011 and beginning of 2012 I’ve been getting the business of life in order. Because having a screaming baby on your lap with a toddler tugging on your arm while you respond to an email isn’t balance. I would love to share what has been working for me and hopefully open up a dialogue between all momprenuers who are struggling with wanting to succeed, but like me, wasn’t executing it as well as they could be.
First on my agenda of the Art of Life: Balancing Business Series is Meal Planning.
Making dinner and even deciding what to make was the single most stressful part of my day. Preparing dinner usually involved me not paying attention to the time until both kids went into their grand whining roles… pulling on my clothes, and me rummaging through the freezer for something to defrost in the microwave. I’d usually leave the youngest screaming through the glass sliding door as I tried to start the barbecue 10 feet away. 5pm rolls around much too quickly around here and the “witching hour” for (my) kids begins. I tried planning out meals before…to an extent and always on paper or in my head. But digitalizing my meal planning has transformed my 5:00 afternoons. We use google calendars for all of our family planning needs. It syncs from our desktop calendar to the iPad and iPhones so I always have it on hand. I am incredibly lucky to have a hubby who does the majority of our grocery shopping, unless he is out of town. So my meal planning is done on a Monday, and he shops after class on Tuesday’s. We also use an iPhone app called Cozi to sync my shopping list. Just to give you a quick run down of what my meal planning entails, here’s a screenshot of my google calendar from last weeks meals.
For each day I’d have exactly what I was making, the recipe already written out, and an email notification scheduled for that morning so when I received it, I’d know exactly what I’d have to throw in the crockpot or defrost for dinner.
While I’m planning out my meals for the week, I’d also have Cozi opened on my phone so can add items to the grocery list as I look over each recipe.
My grocery list is automatically synced to hubby’s phone so when he gets off work or out of class he just carries his phone around the store and checks off items as he gets them. I could also choose to have the list emailed to him as well if he preferred a print out.
If you are like my family, there are a few staple meals that we make on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. What I love about using Google calendar for my meal planning is I can choose to have a recipe repeat every week, or 2 weeks, or every month. It’s one more way to automate a task that used to take so much of my time planning and executing. Now I use my 5:00 afternoon to catch up with the boys. They can help me throw together some vegetables, or I can sit and interact with them while we are waiting for the crockpot to finish up.
So, I would love to hear from you! Are you a stretched Mompreneur? What areas of your life and business are you struggling to stay afloat with? I know I can’t be the only one out there trying to run a business and a household at the same time and in the same space. Let’s share and learn!